An Ode to Dead Games
Remember that time I said the universe is an inexorably cruel and ultimately indifferent place? Yeah, I read yesterday’s review, too. It turns out the mundanities of our existence do not just extend to ultimately minor bugs in poorly – coded video games, but also the major ones in video games made in poorly – coded engines. Games are finicky little nerds and seeing how well they run on my computer is a fascinating art in itself, where they go from flawless to frustratingly inconsistent to outright refusing to boot. You would think in 2017 there would have been created a perfect games engine that would unify the Warring Engine Tribes and create sunshine and lollipops for all the land. You would also think Windows would have finally fucking croaked, so I might as well be thinking of catgirls with striped panties. Or boys. Don’t forget the boys.
Let me give you some insight into the Kratzen Magic: I download a bunch of games, check ’em one at time to see if they’re crap, and delete them if they are. The vast majority of titles I download are either crap or completely non – functional, crap being defined as something you wouldn’t want to play for more than five minutes, and completely non – functional being defined as not immediately working the instant I run them through either the shell or with Wine, because I can’t be arsed to play a title that doesn’t want to play for me. It may be possibility for me to solve some of these issues through installing more dependencies or getting more Windows programs for Wine, but why should the user be forced to make up for the poor decisions of the developers?
So here are a bunch of games, in no particular order, that are currently clogging up my trash bin and which I would have reviewed if they ended up running, if they weren’t crap, if they were interesting, if it caught my fancy, if it wasn’t short enough, and if I had nothing else to deal with that day. I apologise for not doing a real review today, but given how it’s been fourteen days into November and I still have no concept of time management or not waiting until the last moment to hack out some words like a hack writer, you can call me an irresponsible asshole for playing with your hearts. Unless you’re a catboy, then you can play with mine 😉.
The broken ones
The Crown Stones: Mirrah. The breakingness, and by extension brokenness, of this project can be explained in one sentence as provided by the installation instructions: “Just download and run, if you do not run on your computer, download Game Maker Studio 1.4 or update Directx 11”. I have neither, because I use my computer as a computer and not just a baby box masquerading as one. I suggest those dumb enough to continue to use Windows – only proprietary software should spend the (brazenly artificially scarce and classist) $100 Game Maker export fee, so you may let Hell and Heaven meet at the edges, and have both cups runneth over.
While this project does look pretty slick in that it’s yet another Metroidvania game, it instead follows a classical interpretation of that genre by featuring pixel art in the style of, rather than a modern art style that is sure to catch the eye of some bored viewers on Itch but will be ultimately forgettable in a few years time; compare the timeless scrubbiness of Cave Story to the firmly – 2010s Guacamelee and its kin. This project’s page is awfully blunt about it’s future, though: “Help the project to not die”, and a plea to help crowdfund it a week before the deadline. Honey, if you don’t wanna see the game happen without relying on the generosity of strangers, I don’t think you’ll make it happen with the generosity of strangers.
One Week My Room. Darn, and I thought suicide games would be so fun! Another classic black screen crash, which isn’t as entertaining as those games which do run but have several assets missing, because at least then I can make fun of Unity for the… fourth? Fifth time on this magazine? Not nearly enough, though I have no idea whatsoever what engine this game runs on. Please tell me they didn’t roll their own. They couldn’t possibly be rolling their own in 2017, right? …right?
Paletta. Damn it, RPG Maker! You are such a shit – eating piece of corporate swill, but so many young and dumb developers use you for so much great work that it breaks my heart to see so much culture locked away behind your shit – eating, “fuck you, pay me” grin that I’m starting to get actually, physically salty whenever I see any mention of you. I was really anticipating this project, too: look! I’ll even link to the project page! But, no. Not only do you slap me in the face, you won’t even give me the time of day when I relent and try to get your crap working. Another day, another Wine configuration that just doesn’t work, and another piece of shitware developed by greedy bastards. Fuck you, RPG Maker, and fuck all ya’ll. Stop being devs and go play volleyball.
Roxas Night Market. I knew it was a bad sign when I saw the game packaged in, of all file formats, a RAR file, which not only is a nonfree file format, but it isn’t even a good nonfree file format, like HVEC or H.264. A quick eyeball of my games library notes that seventeen out of twenty – two games are packaged as ZIP, three of them (all RenPy visual novels in the default Linux export format) are packaged as bzip2 tar, one of them is a Java executable, and the last one is also a RAR as used by a Russian high – budget visual novel demo. And when it comes to Russian software, things either go really good or really bad really fast.
The game silently fails about boot, but let’s talk more about RAR. What does it do? Does it have encryption? No better than other formats. Does it offer superior compression? No, even the obscure formats kick it to the curb. Is it a standard on any operating system? Hell no. And I’m not even sure if it’s faster to compress and decompress. There is nothing RAR does that the 7z format doesn’t do better, and to use RAR instead of one of the most popular free software compression formats is an insult to all the work and generosity put into the developers of that format for making it such an excellent piece of compression, with security and speed, and representing Russia as one of their best exports!
But to also discuss the ZIP format for a moment, I do understand it’s one of those stock IT utilities that work absolutely everywhere (even though a gzipped tar offers both superior compression and speed, to say nothing of just sending the tarball directly, although limited to Unix environments because of Microsoft hate – mongering), though I believe that we as humans are advanced enough to already have standalone extraction software installed, and those in turn are advanced enough to handle such file formats as 7z.
The advantages as offered by that file format is why I distributed the Tao of Mario as 7z instead of using a utilitarian ZIP: it’s well supported, it compresses well, and it does it better than any other practical format. I did experiment with using ZPAQ, a vastly more CPU – intensive compression format, in order to distribute Three Drunk, Pissed – Off Frogs in addition to the stock RenPy formats, though it still remains an obscure format that’s hard to use and has very little support. I hope one day our puny $6,000 computers are fast enough to make ZPAQ practical for daily use, though as it stands it’s more of a novelty for obsessive nerds.
Super Blast Off! (Demo). I got a bad feeling about this, Scoob. I think my first question is: where’s the edge? There’s no such thing as a pure indie game anymore; there’s always an undercurrent of darkness and maturity that covers the indies in any medium, even in children’s work, and for there to be none apparent in this project is a sign of developers who may very well be normies, when art requires some sort of deviancy or outside perspective in order to be fulfilling. The exception to this purity observation is in romance visual novels, which are usually extraordinarily gay and are a culture unto themselves.
I have no more questions because I lost interest, even though I did consider this game to seem better than many I download, so I am a bit disappointed for it to loudly crash. If I didn’t know this was an indie studio’s first project, as evidenced by their overbearingly enthusiastic advertising copy (where my copy, you see, is more smarmy and thus easier to cringe on reflection), I would think it’s a student project for a digital arts class. I do predict that, without a strong culture to connect to and without the typical normie distribution methods of having it everywhere from Windows to Android to the Nintendo Switch (the Shovel Knight Shuffle, you see), I think it’ll be dead in the water. Lovely animation though, if also a bit too 2010s.
Planet Dysphoria. The transgender experience is the closest that Hell has ever come to Earth, at least from all accounts I’ve heard, and to see another environmental sim take a stab at one of its root causes is a prospect I would have liked to been a part of. But no! Black screen! A ton of errors! Unity taking the piss again! Oh, I get to insult Unity again? Look, it’s like a dog — you can’t just say it’s a bad boy, you have to make it admit it, to rub their face in the mess they’ve made and cast them from your house like society casts out trans folk for having the gall to exist. Of course now some radicals will come at me for comparing transgenders to dogs, to which I reply that a frog cannot be a bigot. It’s a scientific fact!
There were more games in my trash bin that failed to run, but I don’t care. You see, the Kratzen Workflow is full of petty hells: first the game has to run on your computer, then it has to run well. Then the game has to be fun, and it has to be long, too. And then, even then, it has to be the type of game you can write about without being boring! All of these restrictions is why it’s taken me until three in the morning to finish this article, although I fell asleep early, so I’m not going to do something stupid like make a forum post complaining about proprietary software.
Hmm, remember when I didn’t base all my opinions on works based on whether or not they were proprietary? Oh wait, yeah I do: before the second article I ever wrote. I do find myself reverting back to my froggy ways, having a lot more swears and generally being a bit more of an arse, though whenever I feel like I’m taking too much of the mickey, I look back on the time I used “fuck” 101 times in the same article, and think about how it could be worse. Also, which one of you fuckers bought a Nintendo Switch and made my predictions completely wrong? Was it all of you? Huh? Jokes on you: I predicted that virtual reality would be a failure by 2017, and guess what year it is, dipshits?
Well, if Kratzen does go downhill due to entirely predictable and avoidable circumstances, at least I can finally launch my dream project: being an indie games developer — HAAAHHHH. Nah, I’ll probably just go into porn.